Of course Jack isn’t Tess’ real dad. He’s thin to her fat, small to her tall, and ginger to her blond. But the 15-year-old never noticed these differences—until she accidentally reads Jack’s blog entry for the Donor Conception Network, in which he reveals that Tess was conceived with the help of a sperm donor.
All teens grapple with identity, but Tess doesn’t simply struggle to find the words to express how she feels—she loses her words altogether. Tess’ heartbreaking and sardonic first-person narration features her distinct inner voice as she sorts through the calamity that has become her life. Responding to Tess’ inner monologue is Mr. Goldfish, a pocket flashlight in the shape of a fish that sheds light on and offers a voice of reason to Tess’ chaotic thoughts. While the concept may sound silly, the result is realistic and effective. Tess relies on Mr. Goldfish even more when her new math substitute is charismatic Mr. Richardson, who resembles her physically, and she becomes the victim of online bullying.
Together, Mr. Goldfish and Tess have a lot to say about truth, friendship and family.